Where excellence counts
Where excellence counts
By Daniel Edyegu
For a vocational institute that has been in existence for close to a century, excellence always comes effortlessly. Yet for the Uganda Technical College - Elgon (UTC - Elgon), its longevity is simply an ingredient used to build foundational excellence.
In a gesture that will further strengthen the steady performance of the college, the Government has handed over modern equipment and the storeyed buildings it constructed through funding from the Islamic Development Bank.
The project cost sh8b. The modern buildings will accommodate laboratories, students' dormitories, a sick bay and lecture rooms. To cap the initiative, a 150,000-litre underground water tank has also been built under the same scheme.
The hand over of the new facilities was done on November 3, the day the college held its 7th Graduation ceremony at its campus. A total of 626 students graduated with diplomas in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, refrigeration and air conditioning, architecture, ICT, building and civil engineering, water and sanitation engineering, as well as higher diplomas in civil engineering.
Wilberforce Watsala, the academic registrar UTC - Elgon, is confi dent the new equipment, plus storeyed blocks are additional ingredients that will enhance the skilling process of the learners at the institution. "The fact that we have got modern laboratories with modern equipment is a huge milestone. It means our learners will leave this place with hands-on experience to face the external world," Watsala says.
The dormitories, Watsala adds, will minimise the shortage of accommodation at the college. Orion, one of the boys' dormitories, was a separate project built by the Ministry of Works in compensation for one of the building it took over from the college to house its personnel during trainings.
UTC - Elgon, is a government tertiary institution offering diploma courses in engineering. It started in 1931 as an artisan-training centre to train World War I veterans in technical and vocational skills. In 1974, it was elevated to a technical institute and later upgraded to a technical college in 1984.
Given the Government drive to curb unemployment through encouraging vocational education, the college is witnessing steady rise in enrolment. "In 2009, the student enrolment stood at 600. This has steadily risen to 1,002 students.
But our ultimate goal is to ensure we produce graduates who can fit in the global market," Watsala says. Sarah Namuli Tamale, the commissioner BTVET, who commissioned the new facilities and presided over the graduation ceremony, says with government focus now turned towards knitting job creators than job seekers, UTC - Elgon and other technical institutions should take the opportunity to shine.
"We explained to President Yoweri Museveni recently that unlike conventional education, vocational education is unique and requires special equipment and human resource. He told us to draft a budget and submit to him for redress. We are also in the process of recruiting teachers. And some of them will be sent as instructors at public vocational institutes," Namuli says.
Andrew Musaazi, the principal UTC - Elgon, commended the Government and President Yoweri Museveni for uplifting the college. He also commended the ministry of works for the compensation that led to the construction of the Orion Hostel and appealed to Government to pay up the balance on construction.
Despite the milestones made, Jane Bella Magombe, the chairperson governing council UTC - Elgon, explains that the college is still striving to overcome some hurdles, including inadequate accommodation and lack of a school bus for industrial visits. "Out of the 1,002 students, we can spaciously accommodate only 648. The other 354 lack proper accommodation and are crammed with the rest in the few facilities. It is an area of concern as our enrolment keeps rising," Magombe observes.
Even then, these hurdles can barely erode UTC - Elgon's strides in the pursuit of its motto: Appropriate skills for development.